Nearly 40 years since Maldives established relations with the European Union, the current relationship is the “best in history”, remarks Member of the European Parliament Tomáš Zdechovský.
Joining RaajjeTV for an exclusive interview during his trip to the island nation, the MEP was at a loss for words when questioned regarding the current relationship between Maldives and EU and how it has been developing.
“I cannot describe it” said an ecstatic MEP who stated that the current relationship is in a state where if the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdulla Shahid visited Europe, everybody wanted to meet him, like never before.
Zdechovský went on to note that the current politicians are very well-educated, is capable of enlightening things very well in the EU and can be a very practical part of the international community.
The MEP stated that right now Maldives is a very reliable partner, who “promises something” and “does it”, while three years ago no one trusted the island nation’s actions and showed no interest in the Maldives.
It was a really crazy situation, nobody trusted Maldives and nobody was interested about it. Now in Europe you can see how many media are writing about your country and much more investors want to come and really increase investments to your beautiful country”Tomáš Zdechovský, Member of the European Parliament.
How can the EU assist the Maldives most right now?
Highlighting that there are many areas in which EU can assist Maldives right now, MEP Zdechovský stated that assisting Maldives like a strong diplomatic partner will really help the government negotiate with other countries, as EU has a lot of experience from across the world through which “we can help”.
The MEP stated that EU could extend assistance through environment experience, scientist, development and technologies. As such, he highlighted the production of tuna fish in the Maldives which could be boosted through technologies from Spain.
Also the cooperation between us can grow and that will be positive for you and for us too. It is not now in the position that you are not for us to partner, it is the same position, it is Maldives and EU, and we will discuss like partners.”Tomáš Zdechovský, Member of the European Parliament.
How can Maldives progress further?
When questioned on areas that Maldives can improve on as there is still room for progress despite the increased progress Maldives has made since the administration of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took over, the MEP stated that there are many things Maldives has to continue progressing on.
However, when comparing Maldives as a full member of the South Asia Delegation, the MEP stated the biggest progress made in democracy within the past years has been in the Maldives, which tops the list.
Maldives still requires to fight against corruption a get involved in a lot of negotiation with other states, not only oriented for one state but globally, as the archipelago nation is very international, MEP Zdechovský said, stressing on the importance of doing so for the future and to maintain a “very good name”.
I will be very happy if your foreign minister, the president of the United Nations or if you start to be a leader. You are doing huge progress, I think only your fisheries products are one of the best on the planet and you have to advertise with other countries especially with EU and this is what we discussed with your politicians and I want to discuss with UK coalition because it is not perfect situation that Sri Lanka or Vietnam has a better position to sell the fisheries products to you like your country”Tomáš Zdechovský, Member of the European Parliament.
Maldives fisheries sector.
Maldivians’ tuna has been described as the most sustainable, caught one-by-one with pole-and-line fishing, however, being the only country to not have a preferential arrangement in the South Asian region and a 24 percent duty on export, the MEP was also questioned whether he will be addressing these issues through discussions with the European parliament members.
Responding to this, the MEP said that they wish to prepare a letter to the European Commission’s president in which they urge her to go into a partnership with the Maldives, which will be a very important step.
He described the Maldives to be a very democratic country to have the same values as the EU and congratulated the island nation as discussions were held a few months back, regarding visa realization.
The MEP assured that the first step has been taken with some three embassies of Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary which will pave way for easier access to the European visa, which Maldivians do not have to travel to neighboring Sri Lanka to attain.
So, this is the first step and the next step will continue and we will discuss the situation around security, there will be huge cooperation and I think the Europe will support Maldives to be a leader and promote environment policy because you did a lot of things and I think that not so many people knows it around the world. You can for next five years be an inspiration for other countries, not only in Asia but around the world.”Tomáš Zdechovský, Member of the European Parliament.
During the interview, MEP Zdechovský also commended the Maldives government for their “excellent” response to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. He noted that the Covid-19 vaccination drive across Maldives is the “best” across the globe and while many countries have had steep declines in tourist arrivals since the pandemic began sweeping across the globe, he remarked that Maldives has been observing steadily increasing numbers in tourist arrivals over the past six weeks or so.
MEP Zdechovský expressed hopes to observe continuation in the strengthening of relations between Maldives and EU in the coming years.